Photos with this report (click to enlarge)
? Maroon-backed Whistler f
The trip began for three of us in Singapore on March 28, where we hired Raj Subaraj for a day and did a tour to Panti forest in Malaysia. Highlights were: Malaysian Rail-babbler after much effort, plus Red-throated Bee-eater at nest, Fluffy-backed Tit-babbler, both Black-winged and Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrikes and Asian Drongo Cuckoo.
Following our flight to Manado, (with an aborted landing causing some consternation!) we had a terrific Sulawesi and Halmahera tour, with great good luck at most sites, and despite our somewhat limited physical capabilities we did remarkably well. Tangkoko was a very nice beginning and gave a good boost to the endemics, with Sulawesi Hawk-Eagle somewhat bizarrely the very first endemic we saw, with a lone Yellow-crested Cockatoo a surprise, perhaps a survivor from the long-extirpated population but more likely a wanderer or escaped captive, whatever, I think it’s good enough to tick! Sulawesi Masked Owl was still at its cliff cave site, and we did very well for kingfishers with Lilac-cheeked, Green-backed, Ruddy, Sulawesi Dwarf and Great-billed all showing very well. Some of us got Ochre-bellied Boobook on the dusk trek back from the Spectral Tarsiers, but a major highlight was the chief ranger locating a Bear Cuscus, which stayed patiently and let us get fantastic views of it, quite a coup. Sulawesi Nightjar at nest almost gave us a problem as it snuck off each time it was checked, but we finally made it work and despite the short steep slope causing angst we all managed to get to see it very well. Sulawesi Black Pigeon was very obliging, Knobbed, Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill and Philippine Scrubfowl showed well, but the Raquet-tails played hard to get and only gave flight views, though Large Sulawesi Hanging Parrot was more obliging.
Gunung Ambang was very rewarding, with some good inaugural birding along the forest edge giving as Small Sulawesi Hanging Parrot and Sulawesi Goshawk, plus Black-billed Koel and a vagrant Eye-browed Thrush. The hill trek up to the crater was well worth the moderate slog, and two mornings there gave us what I think is a juv. Yellow-flanked Whistler, a suspected female Maroon-backed Whistler, great views of several Matinan Blue Flycatchers, and for Phil and Untu only a Scaly-breasted Kingfisher that flushed from right beside the track! Night birding was frustrating as the newly described Cinnabar Boobook began calling early when it was still light, and came right in twice only to basically elude the lights, giving glimpses only to Joyce and Phil. Wet clientele due to the morning downpour precluded a second go next evening, but we know where he lives and will be back sometime!
Dumoga Bone proved worthwhile with fantastic looks at a Speckled Boobook, my thanks to the rangers for this one, and a super flight look at Great-eared Nightjar, with what is currently the hispidoides race of Common Kingfisher, one in the bank I suspect. Isabelline Bush-hen and Barred Rail showed well along rank wet roadsides.
We then made a day trip to Makassar, getting Black-ringed White-eye very nicely and also scoring Pale-bellied Myna as an unexpected endemic, before flying up to Palu and beginning our stint at Lore Lindu. Nowadays the Anaso track is very degraded and has to be walked both ways, a 10 km trek but not overly steep, though it taxed some of our group to the limit and they did very well to cope with it. Happily everyone got to see the megas, with Yellow-flanked Whistler a primary family target, followed by a superb Geomalia which we followed along the trail, lovely looks at the curious and strange Malia, a wonderful pair of Satanic/Diabolical/Heinrich’s Nightjar, Small Sparrowhawk, Golden-mantled Racquet-tail, Citrine and Elegant Lorikeets, Large and Small Sulawesi honeyeaters (Myzas) and an unforgettable Piping Crow.
Back to Makassar, where the dreaded Merpati lived up to their reputation and delayed then cancelled our Ternate flight. Shita and Untu worked miracles with the local ground agents and we eventually somehow wangled all of us onto the Expressair flight, a great late save, well done guys, I hope it didn’t cost you too much! The fast boat trip from Ternate over to Sidangoli was good as we scored lovely views of Beach Kingfisher as we came into the mangroves, and set up our base for the next few nights in town at the basic but acceptable losman.
Halmahera was quite sobering as the habitat damage is so extensive, and the site we had for the Standardwing was actually being logged as we waited for the birds, which made finding things kind of tough as disturbance levels in what was until about a fortnight beforehand pristine forest were now quite high. The track was quite steep and slippery though not overly long, and we dodged a bullet here with a spectacular fall from Lorna, from which she courageously emerged bloodied and bruised, but basically unhurt, it could have been so much worse! We persevered with the birds and eventually it all came good, with great views of a Wallace’s Standardwing, and a fine supporting cast of Moluccan Owlet-nightjar, Moluccan Scops Owl, Spectacled and Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Sombre Kingfisher, White-naped Monarch, Moluccan Monarch, Slaty Flycatcher, Drab and Black-chinned Whistlers and Halmahera Cuckooshrike. A Pygmy Eagle (formerly known as Little Eagle) was an exciting find as there are just a handful of records from here, and a juvenile was of great interest, with an adult near Mamin on another day. The heat of the mid-day with no power for fans was taxing for some (“I’ve never been so miserable in all my life” quote), but loitering outside made it bearable and various afternoon forays around added Goliath Coucal, Scarlet-chested Fruit Dove, Blue-capped Fruit-Dove on nest and Blue and White Kingfisher. Phil scored a handful of Australasian ticks, with Chestnut Munia and Lesser Coucal being very pleasing and a brief look at a Dusky Friarbird a tad frustrating.
An afternoon on Ternate was exciting, with a 3-engined fast boat crossing over which took just 30 minutes at some 20+ knots, then a visit for some of us to Jalan Alfred Russell Wallace and the site of the great man’s house, now replaced by a hairdressing salon! A Portuguese fort dating from 1512 was also of interest. Next morning we had a couple of hours at a crater lake called Danau Tolire, which gave me two Australasian ticks in Sooty-headed Bulbul and Chinese Sparrowhawk, the latter actually a lifer, whilst all except Dawn had already seen it somewhere else. Other highlights here were a saltwater crocodile basking on a log, Channel-billed Cuckoo and a lovely Great-billed Parrot just as we were about to leave, plus 5 White Cockatoos, which were unexpected here. Back to Manado and a chance to catch up before the boat to Sangihe next day.
The express ferryboat was fast and quite comfortable, with air-conditioned cabin and airline-style seats, though I could have done without the Christian revival music soundtrack. We enjoyed the spectacle of the loading and unloading at Siau and the other island en route, how nice to be somewhere without the menace of Health and Safety bureaucracy stifling everything! Back on Sangihe, we had a comfortable enough losman, and next morning we left early for our epic trek up Gunung Sahendaruman, complete with unexpected creek crossings and quite steep slopes. Gerry wisely sat it out, but the rest of us fumbled our way up and back, stopping at the amazing Garden House on the ridge, where a family actually lives. Birds were few, but we got great looks at a pair of Elegant Sunbird, and Phil and Mike saw a female Sangihe Hanging Parrot, two Critically Endangered species that can be tough to get. Sadly the shrike-thrush and flycatcher were not realistic for us, and really would need a day apiece, but it was nice to see the island and the fragments of good habitat remaining. That night we forayed out for Sangihe Scops Owl and scored one almost right away, calling well and coming right in for great views.
Next day we went along the coast and picked up the local race of Collared Kingfisher, a pair of Sangihe Hanging Parrot for everyone, and fantastic looks at Yellow-eyed (Elegant) Imperial Pigeon, plus the very distinctive local taxon of Hooded Pitta that has a huge white wing patch and calls very differently to New Guinea birds. The endemic Sangihe Tarsier was a good find that evening too.
The journey back to Manado was uneventful, seeing single Great and Lesser Frigatebird, Bridled Tern and two odd terns that were dark grey beneath but vanished way too fast to be identified.
Night at Tomahon, then next day birding the slopes where the final mega of the trip performed beautifully, with up close and personal views of Scaly-breasted Kingfisher, which just sat for ages and didn’t even have to be harassed by taping. The paddies by Danau Tondano gave us a few trip birds like Yellow Bittern, Zitting Cisticola and Dusky Moorhen, and some sightseeing of the amazing Minahassa houses was interesting, though two sad captive Sulawesi Masked Owls at a café were a distressing sight, part of a family of 6 that were trapped in the nostril cavity of the carving of the Buddha on the cliff face! They could have earned far more money if they’d just left them alone and instead charged birders for the stakeout, ah well.
Shita and Untu from West Papua Bird Club handled the ground arrangements and were wonderfully efficient, with good drivers and assistants, especially Utu and Alde from Manado. They put up with our many and remarkably varied idiosyncrasies with great patience, though I fear the rigours of a primarily North American group may have been something of a shock to them, as it was to Dawn! Thanks also to the various excellent local guides, especially Ferdy, Julius, Idris and Wesley. The weather was also remarkably dry; we met with just one heavy shower at Gunung Ambang, though Tangkoko was as always very hot and humid with once again very bad chiggers-beware!
Thanks to the group for asking us to put together the trip, it was terrific to come back and impressive to see how well things are developing in Indonesia: Airlines that mainly work (Merpati excepted of course!), amazing creative but non-aggressive, assertive driving; a superabundance of motorcycles with astonishingly youthful drivers (or are we just that old?); much easier officialdom (though don’t lose your exit card whatever you do, the guy behind me on the flight out had lost his and was very nearly detained, he was pretty stressed!); nice spicy food, albeit tough on the non-spice folks and the non-fish eaters though we did bland it out pretty well. Above all, friendly, polite and helpful people and a fascinating diverse culture, we seem so boorish by comparison. I can’t wait to come back to the Lesser Sundas and West Papua- why not join us in 2011 and 2012?
Underlining denotes an endemic as defined by Coates and Bishop and/or the IOC. IOC order is used throughout.
* denotes a near endemic
I=introduced species H=Heard only NL=Non-leader sighting
Maleo (Macrocephalon maleo)
One of the star birds of the trip. We had great views of two of these large bizarre pink bellied megapodes perched out in trees at Tambun, then Joyce and Joan had the thrill of releasing two juveniles back into the wild, from eggs taken and incubated by the rangers. Maleo were also heard calling from the hill slopes by the diggings, which are heavily infested with lantana.
Philippine Scrubfowl (Megapode) (Megapodius cumingii)
Two dark legged birds were with a Red Jungle Fowl in forest at Tangkoko, and gave quite good views.
Dusky Scrubfowl (Megapode) (Megapodius freycinet) H
Heard daily on Halmahera but none seen.
Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) I
Clearly feral at Tangkoko, we saw them deep in the forest, along with Philippine Scrubfowl!
Wandering Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna arcuata)
Two along the Gorontalo Road, and two sightings of two Dendrocygna sp. near Toraut and Danau Tondano were probably this species.
Sunda Teal (Anas gibberifrons)
Very few, most from the Dumoga-Bone area, with 2 near Manado, and a single near Tambun with 3 near Toraut. The white axillary patch was unexpected.
Red-throated Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Seven birds were at Danau Tolire on Ternate.
Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis)
A single male gave great flight looks near Danau Tondano, and there were two other birds nearby.
Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus)
Just one sighting of a single bird, flying over in paddies near Toraut.
Nankeen Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus)
Ten in a swampy area along the Gorontalo road, including some juveniles
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
This is seemingly a vagrant to Sulawesi, but Mike and I had a good flight view of one flying over the coast at Makassar on April 14 as we headed out to the airport
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
A few around Toraut and one near Palu, with one at Lake Tondano, and up to 5 in swampy areas along the Gorontalo Road, including a juv.
Eastern Cattle Egret (Bubulcus (ibis) coromandus)
Quite common around Dumoga Bone and Toraut. One record of 20 from Halmahera.
Striated Heron (Butorides striatus)
Two in mangroves at Sampirang near Tangkoko, on our boat trip there.
Javan Pond Heron (Ardeola speciosa)
Excellent looks at breeding dress birds near Manado and Palu, and up to a dozen in the rice paddies near Dumoga and at Danau Tondalo.
Great White Egret sp. (Egretta alba/modesta)
Joyce and Joan saw one on Sangihe, it could be either alba or the split modesta.
Intermediate Egret (Egretta intermedia)
Two birds down by Lake Tondano on April 24.
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Sparse, we saw 3 in paddies near Manado, then about 30 in paddies near Toraut and the same number near Danau Tondano, which included several of the nominate form with yellow feet, not the dark footed nigripes. Two seen at Danau Tolire on Ternate.
Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor)
One male from the Sangihe ferry April 23.
Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel)
One from the Sangihe ferry April 23.
Frigatebird sp. (Fregata sp.)
A few from the Sangihe ferry both ways, and 5 off Ternate, too far to be identified.
Eastern Osprey (Pandion cristata)
One along the Tobelo Road on Halmahera was the only record of the trip.
Jerdon’s Baza (Aviceda jerdoni)
Joyce spotted one at Dumoga Bone, which flew just as the rest of us got onto it, then we had two in flight at Karaenta which gave much better views.
Pacific Baza (Aviceda subcristata)
One adult at Km 13 on Halmahera. This is the endemic race rufa of the N. Moluccas.
Barred Honey Buzzard (Pernis celebensis)
A fly-over with the Jerdon’s Baza at Karaenta was lucky, we had a fine view of the small bill and head. Now split from steerei in the Philippines too so this is actually an endemic.
Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
Small numbers seen at Gunung Ambang, Tambun and Danau Tondalo.
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)
A few at Tangkoko and Gunung Ambang, also on Siau (Mike), Sangihe and Danau Tondano. Widespread in small numbers on Halmahera.
White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)
Just one immature bird seen over the Tobelo road on Halmahera.
Sulawesi Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis rufipectus)
This proved unexpectedly hard, with none at Tangkoko, but one soaring at Gunung Ambang, then a fine perched bird near Wuasa and one soaring over the Anaso track.
Spotted Harrier (Circus assimilis)
Curious to see this primarily Australian species sailing over paddies near Manado, with another at Gunung Ambang and a final bird near Tambun.
Sulawesi Goshawk (Accipiter griseiceps)
One soaring over the forest at Gunung Ambang was the only sighting.
Chinese Sparrowhawk (Accipiter soloensis)
One at Danau Tolire on Ternate was a lifer for Phil and Dawn, if no-one else! Another late migrant was on Sangihe April 22.
Grey-throated Goshawk (Accipiter (hiogaster) griseogularis)
A split from Variable Goshawk cf. Ferguson-Lees raptor guide, we saw it briefly near the Standardwing Trail late one afternoon.
Moluccan Goshawk (Accipiter henicogrammus)
This large dark accipiter showed briefly whilst we were looking for Purple Dollarbird.
Spot-tailed Goshawk (Accipiter trinotatus)
One was calling in the hill forest at Tangkoko on two days, but we only got very brief looks at it. Also heard at Gunung Ambang.
Small (Dwarf) Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nanus)
Point-blank views of a diminutive yellow-legged adult along the forest edge at Anaso, and a fly-by at Danau Tambine. These endemic accipiters all seem to be small, and hard to find.
Grey-faced Buzzard (Butastur indicus)
One late migrant on the epic slog up Mt Sahendaruman on Sangihe April 23.
Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis)
Three were soaring over Gunung Ambang crater, and singles at Wuasa and in the nearby hills.
Rufous-bellied Eagle (Hieraaetus kienerii)
An adult soaring over along the hill forest road at Tangkoko, and 2 near Wuasa.
Pygmy Eagle (Hieraaetus weiskei)
This was an exciting find at Km 12 from Sidangoli, where we photographed an almost white-headed juvenile bird, then had an adult at Mamin next day. There are just a handful of records from Halmahera of this newly split species, which was previously thought to be a form of Little Eagle, which is now an Australian endemic with this species in New Guinea, Seram and the Moluccas.
Sulawesi Hawk-Eagle (Nisaetus lanceolatus)
We had great scope views of an adult at Tangkoko on day 1, strangely enough the first endemic we got! Heard next day, and also heard up at Danau Tambine at 0430. Finally a pale immature soared over at Gunung Mahawu on the very last day.
Spotted Kestrel (Falco moluccanus)
Sparse, but we did quite well for them this trip with 7-day records on Sulawesi, mostly singles but 2 near Wuasa. The first was in paddies near Toraut. On Halmahera we had 3 day records, with 3 on April 18 the maximum.
Oriental Hobby (Falco severus)
One imm. perched at Dumoga Bone was unexpected and was a Sulawesi tick for me.
Buff-banded Rail (Rallus philippensis)
Seen nicely at Tangkoko and Toraut.
Barred Rail (Rallus torquatus)
Excellent views of one bathing in a puddle in the road at Toraut. Phil saw one at Tangkoko, and then there was one near Tomahon.
White-browed Crake (Porzana cinerea)
Two vocal birds in a rice paddy at Danau Tondano, and one later walking out on water weeds.
Pale-vented Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana) H
Heard at Km 12 on Halmahera.
Isabelline Bush-hen (Amaurornis isabellinus)
One kept coming to some roadside food near Toraut, which most of us got good looks at, then another next day by the road to Gorontalo which we saw well from the vehicle. The large greeny yellow bill was very striking.
White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)
Two at Dumoga Bone and one at Danau Tondano.
Dusky Moorhen (Gallinula tenebrosa)
An adult seen well in a lagoon by Danau Tondano The lack of flank stripe was clearly established.
Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)
Just a couple were seen in swampy vegetation along the Gorontalo Road, looking much like the black-backed samoensis race. Often split these days as Black-backed Swamphen.
Barred Buttonquail (Turnix suscitator)
Some folks saw one at Tangkoko, and most of us got them up at Gunung Ambang in the cultivation, where we saw 2 birds on two days. Finally one was seen by some of us in the road en route to Palu.
Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva)
Two in paddies near Manado, and up to 30 at the Toraut paddies later.
Swinhoe’s Snipe (Gallinago megala)
Two birds at a paddyfield near Toraut looked stout bellied, had short foot projection in flight and gave the dry short raspy flight call that I associate with Swinhoe’s Snipe, still a great field i.d. challenge.
Snipe sp. (Gallinago sp.)
A couple of birds seen well in the scope but not in flight at Toraut paddies were probably Swinhoe’s.
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Small numbers in paddyfields near Toraut, with 20 on one day and 30 a couple of days later, and a couple of odd sightings along the way.
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Five day-records, with 3 in the paddies near Toraut the maximum. One on Halmahera April 19.
Long-toed Stint (Calidris subminuta)
One in the paddies near Toraut, a lifer for Dawn no less, and it or another still there next day April 7.
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
Dawn saw one on the crossing to Halmahera April 14, and there were about 15 on the sea as we came out of Manado en route to Sangihe.
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
One summer plumage adult was close by the fast boat back to Ternate.
Two odd birds off Siau were very dark grey below, and may have been Aleutian Tern, but the view was just too brief. Two large very dark terns here may well have been Brown Noddy. Finally, a tern over a creek at Tahuna on Sangihe was either Whiskered or White-winged Black, the white rump and grey tail suggesting the latter but the shape the former, so left indeterminate.
Crested Tern (Sterna bergii)
One was off Halmahera on the way over.
Bridled Tern (Onychoprion anaethetus)
A couple seen on the way back from Sangihe as we neared Siau.
Feral Rock Dove (Columba livia) (I)
Presumed feral birds were seen in Kotamobagu and Makassar, also maybe Manado.
White-throated (Metallic) Pigeon (Columba vitiensis)
Two of this uncommon bird were seen along the coast road on April 17.
Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) (I)
A few records of small numbers, from Palu onwards.
Red Turtle Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica)
A pair in the dry scrubby hills above Palu, the origins of this population seem to be uncertain, they may or may not be native.
Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata)
Amazingly few, just singles near Tangkoko and Toraut by the mangrove stop.
Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove (Macropygia amboinensis)
A few at most localities including on Sangihe and Halmahera, vocally quite distinct from Brown Cuckoo Dove.
Great Cuckoo Dove (Reinwardtoena reinwardtii)
Four on April 14 near km 12, and heard on two later dates.
Sulawesi Black Pigeon (Turacoena manadensis)
Fantastic looks at Tangkoko, perched close by with a fly-by later, and then again at Tambun where two were in display, with one gliding just above the forest and performing shallow dives. Also seen at Gorontalo Road.
Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) H
Singles heard near Dumoga Bone and at Tomahon. Also heard on Halmahera, note this is the grey-capped Asian form and not the Pacific Emerald Dove (C. longirostris) of Australia and much of New Guinea.
Stephan’s Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps stephani)
One flew down the track at Tangkoko but was missed by most.
Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans)
Singles in mangroves near Manado and a couple on Sangihe.
Grey-cheeked Green-Pigeon (Treron griseicauda)
Ten at Tangkoko, a few near Kamarora and a few at Tambun and Toraut.
Red-eared Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus fischeri)
Glimpsed at Gunung Ambang, and most folks got to see it well at the Anaso track.
Scarlet-breasted Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus bernsteinii)
One on April 18 along the coast road, seen flying across then found perched up in deep shade and seen by a few. Heard also at the Standardwing site.
Maroon-chinned Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus subgularis) H
Heard at Dumoga Bone April 7.
Superb Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus superbus)
A female at Tomahon on the last birding day.
Blue-capped Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus monacha)
One on April 18, and a great find by Untu of one on nest on April 19, which gave superb scope views of this Halmahera endemic.
Grey-headed Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus hyogastrus)
Small numbers on most days on Halmahera, with 5 being the maximum.
Black-naped Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus melanospila)
A few at Tangkoko, and rather better views at both Dumoga Bone and Toraut.
White-bellied Imperial Pigeon (Ducula forsteni)
This large and spectacular endemic was seen in small numbers at Tangkoko and Lore Lindu.
Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon (Ducula basilica)
Seen nicely on two days on Halmahera, 4 on April 14 and one on April 16.
Grey-headed Imperial Pigeon (Ducula radiata)
Uncommon, only seen at Anaso with a total of 4 birds.
Elegant (Yellow-eyed) Imperial Pigeon (Ducula concinna)
This was a neat find on Sangihe of this scarce and elusive small island special, where we had lovely views of some 4 birds along the coast road, a really smart looking pigeon with a bright pale yellow eye.
Green Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea)
A common species at each of the Sulawesi parks, but the local race paulina with the large bushy ochre nape must be a good candidate for a split.
Spectacled Imperial Pigeon (Ducula perspicillata)
Four on April 15 and a single on April 18 were the only sightings of what is basically a Moluccan endemic.
Pied Imperial Pigeon (Ducula bicolor)
If this is to be split, so should the local taxon of Green Imperial-Pigeon! Some saw them at the Masked Owl site, then again at the mangroves near Manado on both trips there, plus 5 on April 16 on Halmahera.
Silver-tipped Imperial Pigeon (Ducula luctuosa)
Up to 10 at Tangkoko and a couple at Toraut, a surprisingly distinctive species.
Lemon-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea)
A very unexpected sighting of a cockatoo at the clearing at Tangkoko appeared to be this species, it was far too small and dainty for the next species and had a distinctly different jizz to Sulphur-crested, which has been known as an escape here. The local rangers seemed sure of it as this species, and it was clearly not a corella. Origin is of course debatable, but maybe a remnant population survives here? This was an unexpected endemic for us, a rare species that is not usually seen on Sulawesi these days.
White Cockatoo (Cacatua alba)
We saw a few on Halmahera, max. 9 on April 17, then had 5 at Danau Tolire on Ternate, which was unexpected.
Large Sulawesi (Great) Hanging Parrot (Loriculus stigmatus)
Widespread at each site, maximum day count was 7, but more often heard than seen.
Sangihe Hanging Parrot (Loriculus catamene)
Phil and Mike saw one on the long trek, which lacked a red cap, and then we all had great views of a pair next day along the coast road. One of the Critically Endangered endemics of Sangihe.
Moluccan Hanging Parrot (Loriculus amabilis)
Two sightings on Halmahera, both single birds.
Small Sulawesi (Pygmy) Hanging Parrot (Loriculus exilis)
Great perched views at Gunung Ambang, much less obvious than its larger relative.
Violet-necked Lory (Eos squamata)
Two sightings from Halmahera, of 5 birds then 3, regrettably only in flight.
Ornate Lorikeet (Trichoglossus ornatus)
Seen at Gunung Ambang and Lore Lindu only, with just a couple of birds at each site.
Citrine (Yellow and Green) Lorikeet (Trichoglossus flavoviridis)
Very sparse, we had good perched views of 2 at Danau Tambine after some effort, and a couple of brief flyovers earlier.
Chattering Lory (Lorius garrulus)
Two day records, with 8 birds on April 14, some of which we saw perched, and a couple on April 16.
Red-flanked Lorikeet (Charmosyna placentis)
One bulleted over the road along the coast on April 17.
Red-cheeked Parrot (Geoffroyus geoffroyi)
Small numbers were seen daily on Halmahera.
Yellow-breasted Racquet-tail (Prioniturus flavicans)
Flyovers along the Tangkoko road, and also a single flying over at Anaso. The deeper call is a useful field character.
Golden-mantled Racquet-tail (Prioniturus platurus)
We had one over Tangkoko, and 4 at Anaso, some of which gave good flight views.
Great-billed Parrot (Tanygnathus megalorhynchos)
One at Danau Tolire on Ternate was a great find, as we had not seen it on Halmahera. It’s a large and very spectacular bird with an amazingly vivid pastel colour scheme, I’m glad we got to find one.
Blue-backed Parrot (Tanygnathus sumatranus)
Just a couple of singles seen at Tangkoko, and, and quite vocal at night there.
Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus)
Three day records from Halmahera, of 3, then 1 then two birds only. The yellow tail tip seemed particularly vivid on the females, this is the Moluccan race vosmaeri.
Moluccan King Parrot (Alisterus amboinensis)
Good views of a male on two dates at the Standardwing site, the parrot is one which is easily missed.
Bay Coucal (Centropus celebensis)
Quite vocal near Gunung Ambang, but elusive and the only sighting came from one taped briefly in along the Gorontalo Road at Dumoga Bone, where it was quite shy.
Goliath Coucal (Centropus goliath)
Heard on two days, then good views of 2 along the coast road, with one next day, looking really odd but showing nicely in the end.
Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis)
Seen at each site with 5-day records on Sulawesi, and two sightings of singles on Halmahera, one quite near Sidangoli, and also heard, this was my first Australasian sighting, though we had it as heard on the previous trip.
Fiery (Yellow)-billed Malkoha (Phoenicophaeus calyorhynchus)
This bizarre species was seen well at each Sulawesi site, a very striking bird.
Black-billed Koel (Eudynamys melanorhyncha)
Good looks at males at Gunung Ambang. The pre-dawn song is very distinct, quite unlike any of the koels in Australia or PNG, but some other calls are quite similar. HBW curiously lumps this species with the other two koels, why I am not sure, their treatment of the cuckoos overall is a bit idiosyncratic.
Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) H
What is presumably this species was heard on Sangihe.
Little (Malay) Bronze-Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx minutillus) (H)
Heard at Tambun and near Wuasa. Sounds much like the Queensland birds but it would have been good to get a look at it.
Channel-billed Cuckoo (Scythrops novaehollandiae)
Two calling and then seen in flight near Dumoga Bone on the Gorontalo Road, a Sulawesi tick for me. Then three more at Danau Tolire on Ternate, seen in flight then perched.
Plaintive Cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus) H
Heard near Wuasa only.
Brush Cuckoo (Cacomantis variolosus) H
Heard on Halmahera on April 19.
Rusty-breasted Cuckoo (Cacomantis sepulcralis)
Seen well at Anaso and Tangkoko, and heard at all sites on Sulawesi.
Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus optatus)
One at Tangkoko was the only sighting, presumably this species and not Himalayan, but no call was heard.
Sulawesi Masked Owl (Tyto rosenbergii)
One of the sea cave haunting birds was thankfully still in residence at Tangkoko, these were ticked by many as Minahassa Masked Owl until I got photos in 2005. Also heard up at Gunung Ambang.
Minahassa Masked Owl (Tyto inexspectata) H
What sounds identical to the calls on my download of this species was calling up near the Anaso track pre-dawn.
Sulawesi Scops Owl (Otus manadensis)
Great looks on our first night near Tangkoko and heard at Tomahon.
Sangihe Scops Owl (Otus collari)
This rare bird, classified as Critically Endangered, showed really well on our night foray above the town; it sure sounds much like Sulawesi Scops to me.
Moluccan (Halmahera) Scops Owl (Otus magicus)
Nice looks at the start of the trail at Km 12, and heard on two other nights. This is a likely split from other races of this species based on vocal differences.
Ochre-bellied Boobook (Ninox ochracea)
Two fine calling birds as we came back from the tarsiers at Tangkoko, though at quite a challenging angle! Sadly they were the only ones of the trip.
Cinnabar Boobook (Ninox ios) H
This newly described species has a very distinct call, it is strange it was overlooked for so long. We heard one calling about 20 minutes before dusk at Gunung Ambang, and lured it across, where it proved a real devil to locate and very averse to light beams despite being close by. Both Joyce and I got glimpses of it flying off but no-one really nailed it, and 2 others were calling more distantly. Unfortunately next night we had got so wet folks opted to bale out and return to the hotel, so a rematch was not possible. We also heard it distantly up near Danau Tambine.
Speckled Boobook (Ninox punctulata)
We tried for this at the Park HQ at Dumoga Bone, and the rangers checked some old house where they have been known to roost, without success. However next day we got a phone call to say they had found a roosting bird, so we headed straight back there and had fantastic views of the bird, quite amazing and earning the guards a good tip! It was a much more contrasting and striking species than expected.
Satanic (Heinrich’s or Diabolical) Nightjar (Eurostopodus diabolicus)
Idris flushed one along the Anaso track but we all dipped, but thankfully he knew of another pair and we got fantastic close views without frightening them off. The dark plumage gave the birds a singular appearance, reminding me most of Archbold’s Nightjar in PNG. One of the birds of the trip without a doubt, just for the now sadly superseded name if not it’s still almost mythical status.
Great-eared Nightjar (Eurostopodus macrotis)
We heard it at Tangkoko, and called in a fine bird at Dumoga Bone.
Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus)
A male at Km 12 from Sidangoli gave good views on two dates.
Sulawesi Nightjar (Caprimulgus celebensis)
This species caused some angst, with a short slippery descent to the nest site, and then the bird flushing off so all we saw was the egg. We returned next day in a more positive frame of mind, and by careful stalking and setting up of the scope we got everyone to have fine scope views of the bird incubating, leaving it without further flushing.
Moluccan (Long-whiskered) Owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles crinifrons)
A great view of one at dusk one evening, at Untu’s site, and heard on two other occasions, with 2 vocal birds close by at the Standardwing lek at dawn.
Grey-rumped Treeswift (Hemiprocne longipennis)
Widespread, seen best at Lore Lindu and Tambun with up to 20 birds.
Moustached Treeswift (Hemiprocne mystacea)
Surprisingly few, just two birds on two days on Halmahera, this is the Moluccan/Aru race confirmata.
Uniform Swiftlet (Collocalia vanikorensis)
A couple were seen at each Sulawesi site, surprisingly scarce here, then more widespread on Halmahera with 30 on April 19 the maximum.
Sulawesi (Moluccan) Swiftlet (Aerodramus sororum)
Very few, we had good views of 4 at Tangkoko on the first afternoon, and 3 at Wuasa, then finally 3 over paddies near Lake Tondano. This is now split from Halmahera Swiftlet (A. infuscatus) and is a Sulawesi endemic.
Glossy Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta)
Widespread and common, seen at each site on both islands, this form lacks a white rump.
Purple Needletail (Hirundapus celebensis)
We saw just a single group of 6 as we came near to Wuasa, the only record of the trip.
House Swift (Apus nipalensis)
One seen near Dumoga Bone, and 4 over paddies near Makassar.
Asian Palm Swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis)
Scarce, we saw it at Tambun and 4 near Makassar.
Purple-winged Roller (Coracias temminckii)
Two at Tangkoko gave quite good views.
(Oriental) Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis)
None on Sulawesi, but singles twice on Halmahera.
Green-backed Kingfisher (Actenoides monachus)
Very vocal pre-dawn at our lodge at Tangkoko, then seen perched quite low down and permitting excellent views along the forest trail.
Scaly-breasted Kingfisher (Actenoides
Untu and In saw one flush off right beside the track at Gunung Ambang, a brief flight view only that everyone else missed and was tick but BVD for me. Happily we were amazingly lucky at Tomahon, with one sat just near the track, not even needing to be taped and allowing photos, a terrific pick up of a greatly prized and difficult species that was voted one of the birds of the trip.
Lilac-cheeked Kingfisher (Cittura cyanotis)
One seen nicely along the entrance track at Tangkoko, with another next day, then we had a great view of one of the endemic race on Sangihe.
Ruddy Kingfisher (Halcyon coromanda)
There was a fine bird along the entrance track at Tangkoko and another right by our base next day.
Great-billed Kingfisher (Halcyon melanorhyncha)
Two in the mangroves on the Tangkoko boat trip, a lucky find as the tide was too low to let us go by boat upstream.
Blue-and-white Kingfisher (Todiramphus diops)
A fine pair at Km 14 on Halmahera were the only sighting.
Sombre Kingfisher (Todiramphus funebris)
Untu did a fine job of calling in one of this elusive easily missed bird at the Standardwing site, and it sat for ages, what a great trip we had for kingfishers!
Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris)
We saw a couple on Sangihe on the coast road and
Beach Kingfisher (Todiramphus saurophagus)
Two birds in the mangroves as we came into Sidangoli, one much more white-headed than the other, which may have been an immature. A good trip bird.
Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sacra)
Maybe a tad early for this migrant, we saw one near Dumoga Bone on April 7.
Variable Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx lepidus) H
Heard at the Standardwing site.
Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx fallax)
Lovely views at Tangkoko after much effort by the rangers to find them for us, and later a couple of us saw one bathing at a water-filled projection on a tree.
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
A single of the endemic resident race hispidoides at Dumoga Bone gave very nice views, and may well be a split. Also seen at the Danau Tondano paddies.
Purple-bearded Bee-eater (Meropogon forsteni)
The only sighting was of one at Gunung Ambang, flying through as we were about to board the vehicles and then being refound for reasonable views as it moved further up into the forest. I expected it at Anaso where we saw a nest hole, but there was no sign.
Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)
6 near Palu along a dry river bed, and seen on the return to Palu too.
Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus)
Four at Sidangoli on Halmahera were the only ones we saw.
Sulawesi (Dwarf) Hornbill (Penelopides exarhatus)
A couple at Tangkoko, seen and heard from the hill viewpoint, were a nice find, then seen again at Dumoga Bone.
Knobbed Hornbill (Aceros cassidix)
This spectacular endemic hangs on despite the destruction of the forests, with a count of 35 at Tangkoko on the first day, coming in to a roost. A few were at Gunung Ambang, and one up near Wuasa.
Blyth’s Hornbill (Rhyticeros plicatus)
A few on Halmahera, with 5 day records, max. 16 birds.
Sulawesi Pygmy Woodpecker (Picoides temminckii)
Unobtrusive, we saw them at Gunung Ambang and near Danau Tambine.
Ashy Woodpecker (Mulleripicus fulvus)
Four at Tangkoko and one at Gunung Ambang, then heard at Dumoga Bone.
Hooded Pitta (Pitta sordida)
This was amazing on Sangihe, where we saw a bird sat frozen by a site where it was nest building, with another nearby, then one hopping along inside a coconut plantation. This race sanghirana is very distinct with huge white wing patches and very distinct call, I suspect this complex of 12 taxa needs a re-evaluation.
Ivory-breasted Pitta (Pitta maxima) H
Frustratingly this species was only heard on Halmahera, despite birds being very close at the Standardwing site, so near we could hear the wingbeats overhead! We were unlucky that the site had been so disturbed by the logging, and that none of the other sites had them calling nearby.
White-streaked Friarbird (Melitograis gilolensis)
Two day records from the Standardwing area, as ever hard to see well.
Dusky Friarbird (Philemon fuscicapillus)
One began calling at the Standardwing site not long after we had seen and heard the oriole there, a typical friarbird vocalization of two or three notes, less musical than the oriole. Shita and I (and maybe some others) twice got glimpses of it, a dull dusky brown friarbird was all we could say, it would have been nice to have a better view but hey, we’ll take it as this can be a very troublesome one to find.
Lesser Sulawesi Honeyeater (Myza celebensis)
We eventually got good looks around Danau Tambine, where one was visiting a nest 1.5 m above ground in a shrub. The pale skin encircles the eye, but despite scope views I was still unable to see any streaks, and these Myzas have me once again puzzled as they sure don’t look like the book pictures
Greater Sulawesi Honeyeater (Myza sarasinorum)
Seen briefly at the upper reaches of the Asano track, appearing middle sized and dark with a pale ring around the eye.
Sulawesi Myzomela (Sulawesi Honeyeater) (Myzomela (sanguinolenta) chloroptera)
This endemic split sounds rather different to Australian Scarlet Honeyeaters, and has a greyish belly, quite unlike the yellow bellied illustration in Birds of Sulawesi. We saw them at Gunung Ambang and Anaso.
Flyeater (Golden-bellied Gerygone) (Gerygone sulphurea)
Good views of the endemic race flaveola at Makassar alongside Lemon-bellied White-eyes, and also along the Anaso track by way of contrast! More often heard than seen.
White-breasted Wood-swallow (Artamus leucorhynchus)
Widespread, max. 10 at Dumoga Bone
Ivory-backed Wood-swallow (Artamus monachus)
Sparse but widespread, we saw them at Tambun, Anaso and Toraut with a maximum of 3 birds.
Moluccan Cuckooshrike (Coracina atriceps)
Two records, a single from the Purple Dollarbird site and then two birds scoped along the coast road.
Cerulean Cuckooshrike (Coracina temminckii)
Uncommon, we saw 2 birds on 3 days up near Danau Tambine and Anaso. Not nearly as bright blue as illustrated, being more of a greyish-blue colour.
White-rumped Cuckooshrike (Coracina leucopygia)
Only seen twice at Tangkoko, maximum 4 birds on the Great-billed Kingfisher trip.
White-bellied Cuckooshrike (Coracina papuensis)
A coupe of singles out around Km 14 on Halmahera, this is the nominate race.
Halmahera Cuckooshrike (Coracina parvula)
One seen on April 16, then great views of a pair with a juv. at km 12 on April 19.
Common Cicadabird (Coracina tenuirostris)
A female seen well along the coast road on April 18, this is the race grayi. As currently recognized this species has 30 races, many with quite distinct vocalizations and variations in the female plumage, so many more species will be unearthed.
Sulawesi Cicadabird (Coracina morio)
Widespread, seen at each of the park sites starting at Tangkoko on day one. The call is a harsh cicada-like buzzing series, not like the Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike allospecies in PNG at all.
Pygmy Cuckooshrike (Coracina abbotti)
We only saw them around the Anaso area, males a strange red-eyed species that was larger than expected.
White-shouldered Triller (Lalage sueurii) *
Quite common near Makassar where we saw a dozen birds during the day, and also seen near Wuasa. The large white shoulder patch was distinctive.
Sulawesi (White-rumped) Triller (Lalage leucopygialis)
Singles at Tambun and near Wuasa 3 were all that we saw.
Rufous-bellied Triller (Lalage aurea)
We saw this attractive species daily on Halmahera, as singles and once as two birds.
Black-chinned Whistler (Pachycephala (pectoralis) mentalis)
Fine views of a pair up at the Standardwing lek area, this is now split off from the vast Golden Whistler complex and is an endemic.
Yellow (Sulphur)-vented Whistler (Pachycephala sulfuriventer)
Just 3 sightings, with one at Gunung Ambang and a couple of records around Danau Tambine.
Cinnamon-breasted Whistler (Drab Whistler) (Pachycephala (griseonota) johni)
We saw just one of this unassuming bird near the Standardwing lek; it is now split off from what was Drab Whistler and becomes a Halmahera endemic. Terrible name though…..
Dusky-brown Oriole (Oriolus phaeocromus)
This scarce and elusive endemic showed once up by the lek, calling well and then coming in nicely, with a Dusky Friarbird vocalizing shortly afterwards. It does look like a dull oriole to me rather than a friarbird, and the voice is typically orioline.
Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis)
Widespread in small numbers on Sulawesi, race celebensis, and the rather distinctive race sanghirensis from Sangihe has a black cap. We saw 6 on the later on April 22.
Sulawesi Drongo (Dicrurus montanus)
Only seen at the higher altitudes at Gunung Ambang and near Anaso.
Hair-crested Drongo (Dicrurus hottentotus)
Widespread, seen at each of the parks. The immatures have a dark eye. This distinctive large white-eyed endemic race leucops must be a split!
Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus)
Quite common on Halmahera, seen almost every day on Halmahera, this is the race atrocaeruleus.
Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys)
We saw a few each day on Halmahera, an also on Ternate.
Rusty-bellied Fantail (Rhipidura teysmanni)
Fairly common around the Anaso area, also at Gunung Ambang.
Pale Blue (Black-naped) Monarch) (Hypothymis (azurea) puella)
Quite common and widespread, seen at Tangkoko and Lore Lindu, much paler than the Asian Black-naped Monarch, and lacks the black nape, also has a distinct song, so now split by many (though curiously enough not yet by the IOC!)
Moluccan Monarch (Spectacled Monarch) (Symposiarchus (trivirgatus) bimaculatus)
Uncommon, we saw one up by the lek and then had a pair at a nest along the coast road on the final day here. Now split from Spectacled Monarch, it is fairly distinctive.
White-naped Monarch (Carterornis pileatus)
Two up by the lek on April 17, it was lucky they began calling as like the sibling White-eared Monarch this is easily overlooked.
Moluccan Flycatcher (Myiagra galeata)
Three on April 15, a male on April 17 and two on April 18, an uncommon Moluccan endemic.
Shining Flycatcher (Myiagra alecto) H
Heard quite commonly on Halmahera.
Slender-billed Crow (Corvus enca)
Small numbers at each of the parks on Sulawesi, and a couple on Sangihe.
Piping Crow (Corvus typicus)
Sparse, but luckily quite vocal and we got fine views from Danau Tambine, a striking species.
Long-billed Crow (Corvus validus)
Four day records from Halmahera, and some good views of this odd endemic crow.
Torresian Crow (Corvus orru)
This was an unexpected find on Ternate, with a single bird at Danau Tolire.
Paradise-crow (Lycocorax pyrrhopterus)
We did well for this odd Manucode-type species, seeing 5 on April 14, and singles each day thereafter except for two on April 16. I taped some good vocalizations, and the pale mark behind and above the eye is quite a good feature.
Wallace’s Standardwing (Semioptera wallacii)
Boy did this lead us a dance, the habitat damage is so severe I have grave fears for its future if it needs tall forest, and we came close to dipping on seeing the flagship bird. The site we had was terrific BUT they had begun felling the trees just a few days prior to us coming, and ox carts hauling logs had made the track quite slippery, and the sound of chainsaws was a constant accompaniment. One bird was glimpsed in flight on April 15, after we could heard them calling, then finally on the third attempt we got terrific views of a female on April 17, who seemed to be drinking from a knot hole on a trunk, a great relief after so much effort. Other sites require much more mobility than our group possessed, so it was the art of the possible for us, and it worked! Not surprisingly this was voted one of the birds of the trip.
Yellow-flanked Whistler (Hylocitrea bonensis)
One of the drivers for the trip now this odd species has been elevated to family level, seemingly in the broad group with Waxwings and Hypocolius! An odd streak breasted immature bird at Gunung Ambang seems likely to have been this species, then Gerry and I saw one along the Anaso track, before we all got good looks at 2 along the main road above Danau Tambine next day.
Citrine Flycatcher (Culicicapa helianthea)
This proved elusive, but we eventually saw a couple nicely near Wuasa.
Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster) (I)
This introduced species was common in the clearing at Tangkoko and near Palu. One at Danau Tolire on Ternate was unexpected and an Australasian tick for Phil.
Northern Golden Bulbul (Thrapsinillas longirostris)
5 on April 15 at Km 11 on Halmahera, and some saw one later in the trip.
Malia (Malia grata)
Weird or what, they remind me of arboreal false-babblers like the Rufous Babbler in PNG but are now placed with bulbuls. We eventually managed good views around the Anaso area of them creeping along tree branches, and some saw them at Gunung Ambang after Dawn spotted the bird which was calling.
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
One near Dumoga Bone, then a small passage on Halmahera with a max. of 14 at Km 14 near Sidangoli on April 15.
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica)
This was common on Sulawesi but scarce on Halmahera, with 4 near Sidangoli and also seen on Ternate at the Portuguese fort and the lake.
Mountain Tailorbird (Orthotomus cucullatus)
Common at higher altitudes around Gunung Ambang and Lore Lindu. These Sulawesi taxa are distinct forms that may be worthy of a split, we saw riedeli in the N and presumably stentor in the centre at Lore Lindu.
Sulawesi Leaf-Warbler (Phylloscopus sarasinorum)
One of the plainer members of the genus, it was quite common at the higher levels around Anaso.
Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis)
This migrant was seen at Km 12 from Sidangoli on April 15. Single Phylloscs by the lek on April 17 and 18 might have been this species but may have been Island Leaf Warbler (P. poliocephalus), for which I forgot to check!
Oriental Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus orientalis)
A single in reeds clumps near Toraut.
Clamorous Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus stentoreus)
One was in reed clumps near Toraut, seen quite nicely.
Chestnut-backed Bush-Warbler (Bradypterus castaneus) *
Is it a bird or a mouse? We got nice looks at this skulker along the higher section of the Gunung Ambang track.
Golden-headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis)
Heard at Tambun and Toraut, and seen near Palu, this is the race rusticus.
Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)
Three seen in paddies near Danau Tondano, this is the taxon constans.
Sulawesi Babbler (Trichastoma celebense)
Commonly heard and seen a few times at each park site, interesting because it is the most easterly of the babbler family as traditionally recognized! They were heard more often than seen.
Mountain White-eye (Zosterops montanus) *
We saw a few around the Anaso area. The white-eyes are now merged into an enlarged Timaliidae, losing the Zosteropidae family
Lemon-bellied White-eye (Moluccan White-eye) (Zosterops chloris) *
Four at Makassar, and a few at Wuasa.
Black-ringed White-eye (Zosterops anomalus)
Nice views of this se Sulawesi endemic by the busy road at Karaenta, it is a quite distinctive bird lacking a white eye ring, and was a good localized endemic tick from our Makassar foray.
Cream-throated White-eye (Zosterops atriceps)
We had a couple of good sightings of this uncommon endemic on Halmahera, around the lek area.
Black-crowned White-eye (Zosterops atrifrons) *
Widespread, seen at Gunung Ambang and Lore Lindu, then one at Tomahon.
Streak-headed Dark-eye (Ibon) (Lophozosterops squamiceps)
Scarce this trip, we only saw a couple around the Anaso area.
Metallic Starling (Aplonis metallica)
Widespread and common on Halmahera.
Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis)
Quite common at Tangkoko and a few around Toraut, and also on Sangihe.
Moluccan Starling (Aplonis mysolensis) *
Untu knew of a nesting tree en route to the Purple Dollarbird site on Halmahera that had a few of this species in with the Metallic Starlings, and we had good views of 3 birds there.
Short-tailed Glossy Starling (Aplonis minor) *
A few (10) of this short tailed species were perched up in palms in fields near Wuasa.
Sulawesi Crested Myna (Basilornis celebensis)
This strange narrow headed species was uncommon, the first being 2 at Tangkoko, then two more plus a flock of 7 near Wuasa.
White-necked Myna (Streptocitta albicollis)
Great looks at the first near Tangkoko, then a single near Tambun.
Fiery-browed Starling (Enodes erythrophis)
This superb spectacular endemic was not uncommon at Gunung Ambang where we saw 20 birds, and also a few in the Anaso area.
Grosbeak Starling (Grosbeak Myna) (Scissirostrum dubium)
This excellent species resembled an orange-billed Metallic Starling in flight, but was a revelation at rest. Seen at all the parks, with 150 at Tangkoko and 30 at Toraut the maxima.
Pale-bellied Myna (Acridotheres cinereus)
A bonus endemic from Makassar, we had a brief view of one of what we thought was going to be this species en route to Karaenta, but it vanished quickly without good views, then we found about 6 in paddies near Makassar, getting nice scope views and seeing the pale grey plumage with the pale grey belly nicely, quite distinct to the much darker White-vented (Javan) Mynas.
Eye-browed Thrush (Turdus obscurus)
An unexpected find (and tick for Shita and Untu) at Gunung Ambang where one female plumaged bird was feeding in fruiting trees along the forest edge, it is a vagrant to Sulawesi, but conceivably much overlooked
Geomalia (Geomalia heinrichi)
Lucky or what? I had asked Idris about this legendary species and he told me it was best early at the higher levels of the Anaso track. Amazingly, we got there about 1000 and he suddenly says to me “Geomalia, on the track”- PANIC, but sure enough, there it was, hopping like an odd long-tailed thrush along the track and seeming quite unconcerned as we watched it or about 10 minutes, getting everyone onto it and even following it up the trail. I even got some moderate photos of it, one of the mythical Sulawesi endemics and bird of the trip for me.
Great Shortwing (Heinrichia calligyna)
Nice views of a male early in the morning in a damp thicket at Danau Tambine.
Island Verditer (Turquoise) Flycatcher (Eumyias panayensis) *
We saw them at Gunung Ambang and around Anaso.
Grey-streaked Flycatcher (Muscicapa griseisticta)
Five day records of this migrant, from Tangkoko and Lore Lindu. Three singles from Halmahera, on April 14, 16 and 19.
Snowy-browed Flycatcher (Ficedula hyperythra)
One at Gunung Ambang and another at Anaso.
Rufous-throated Flycatcher (Ficedula rufigula)
One shy bird above Danau Tambine (as we tried for a calling Scaly-breasted Kingfisher) was only seen properly by Mike I believe?
Little Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula westermanni)
This attractive species showed well along the Anaso track and at Danau Tambine.
Blue-fronted Flycatcher (Cyornis hoevelli)
Excellent views of this large and attractive species with the lovely song around Anaso.
Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher (Mangrove Blue) (Cyornis omissus)
This was seen by some of us at Gunung Ambang, and then really well at Tomahon where it was singing loudly. Now split from Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, and another endemic.
Matinan (Blue) Flycatcher (Cyornis sanfordi)
We saw 3 individuals of this obscure restricted range endemic species at the higher levels at Gunung Ambang, with some very nice looks, the reddish tail was a useful character in good light as was the nondescript high-pitched wiry song. My mystery photograph of a female plumaged whistler type is felt by some to refer to this species too.
Yellow-sided Flowerpecker (Dicaeum aureolimbatum)
Some good views at Gunung Ambang, Dumoga Bone and Lore Lindu, then again on Sangihe with the race laterale.
Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker (Dicaeum nehrkorni)
Two near Wuasa April 9, and one next day, and 2 at Tomahon, were all that we saw.
Grey-sided Flowerpecker (Dicaeum celebicum)
A common bird throughout Sulawesi, the juv. has an orange-red bill.
Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)
Singles at Tangkoko on 3 dates, this is the Sulawesi race celebensis.
Black Sunbird (Leptocoma sericea)
A few at Tangkoko and Toraut, this is the race grayi, and we saw sangirensis on Sangihe. The race auriceps was seen in small numbers on Halmahera.
Elegant Sunbird (Aethopyga duyvenbodei)
Our climb up the slopes of Mt Sahendaruman on Sangihe got us fine views of 2 of this attractive and Critically Endangered endemic, it was worth the slog.
Yellow-bellied (Olive-backed) Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis)
Common in the lowlands, this is the Sulawesi race plateni. The race frenatus was seen in small numbers on Halmahera.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
Common at lower levels in Sulawesi and also seen on Siau and Sangihe. Also seen on Halmahera where it was common around Sidangoli, and a few on Ternate.
Black-faced Munia (Lonchura molucca) *
Five day records, the first being 7 near Manado, and a max. of 12 birds near Toraut.
Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)
Six at the Makassar paddies were the only record.
Chestnut Munia (Lonchura malacca)
The Sulawesi race has a distinctive black belly and a chestnut breast band and was widespread in the paddyfields. Unexpectedly we also found 3 near Sidangoli on Halmahera, an Australasian tick for me.
Pale-headed Munia (Lonchura pallida) *
We saw 5 of this striking species near Palu April 9, and 10 in the dry hills there later.
Java Sparrow (Lonchura oryzivora) I
One near Makassar was the only sighting of this presumably introduced bird, though on a previous trip I saw a couple of hundred near Toraut and there seems to be some debate about their origins.
Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla tschutschensis)
Migrants heading north were widespread in the paddyfields (max. 16), and all in summer plumage looked to be this form, formerly known as the race simillima.
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
Migrant birds were still near Wuasa with up to 6 in a day. Also heard at Sidangoli on Halmahera.
Mountain Serin (Serinus estherae) *
We saw a flock of 10+ flying over the Anaso track up near the logging camp site by the first flat bit, the got a scope view of a female plumaged bird, with yellow forehead, big bill and heavily streaked dark underparts.
Bear Cuscus (Ailurops ursinus)
This was one of the best encounters of the trip! I asked Untu about the chances of seeing it, and he told me he’d not seen one for two years. Amazingly, Ferdy the ranger found one at Tangkoko and it just stayed put, allowing us to follow up his mobile phone call and meet up at the site where this strange creature was sat atop a fallen tree and just phlegmatically regarded us, not 10 m away. It has odd brow ridges, endearing hazel coloured eyes, and long thick dark grey bare tail, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. My camera objected to the heat and great humidity, but I did manage a few shots before it packed up on me.
Ornate Cuscus (Phalanger ornatus)
One at the start lek site at km 12 on Halmahera during an owling foray gave good views and must be this species, an endemic to Halmahera, Batjan and Ternate.
Sulawesi Tree Squirrel (Northern Dwarf Squirrel) (Prosciurus murinus)
2 at Gunung Ambang.
Montane Long-nosed Squirrel (Hyiosciurus heinrichi)
Various squirrels at Anaso may be this species.
Lowland Long-nosed Squirrel (Hyiosciurus illele)
One at Tangkoko was identified by the rangers as this species.
Whitish Dwarf Squirrel (Prosciurillus leucomus)
Several seen at Tangkoko, with the distinct whitish neck patch.
A couple of mid-sized squirrels seen on Sangihe may be some endemic species I suspect.
One up a forest tree at Gunung Ambang was about 20 cm long, grey above and white on the belly, with a dark and pale parti-coloured tail.
Spectral Tarsier (Tarsius spectrum)
Lovely views of them emerging from their roost in a huge fig at Tangkoko.
Sangihe Tarsier (Tarsius sangirensis)
A nice view of one above the town on Sangihe, endemic to this island too.
Cercopithecidae (Old World Monkeys)
Sulawesi Black Macaque (Macaca nigra)
Close encounters with a group of 40+ at Tangkoko, with a veiled researcher tagging along behind the troop, which is an impressive large species with a bizarre haircut! Seemingly a feature of traditional Christmas dinners in Minahassa…….
Dumoga Bone Macaque (Macaca nigrescens)
Two large macaques similar to Tonkean Macaque in the forest near Toraut are this split species.
Small and medium sized bats were also seen at various sites on both the main islands
Reptiles and Amphibians
House gecko: Common at Toraut
Various great butterflies and orchids, and a couple of distinctive pitcher plants along the Anaso track.
We saw some 75 Sulawesi endemics (with another 3 heard) and 34 (with 1 more heard) Halmahera/Moluccan endemics, (as initially defined by Coates and Bishop with subsequent updates), a superb total and higher than expected.
Gill, F. and Wright, M. 2006. Birds of the World: Recommended English Names. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press. Updated versions are available as free downloads from worldbirdnames.org and it is by some way the most up-to-date and progressive of the world checklists.
Coates, B. J. and Bishop, K. D. (1997). A Guide to the Birds of Wallacea. Dove Publications, Brisbane. An indispensable resource, the only even moderately up-to-date source for the region, but the plates are variable in their accuracy and the layout is simply diabolical, why it was laid out in such a frustrating and user hostile fashion is inexplicable. The text is generally good and very helpful.
Duff, A. and Lawson, A. (2004). Mammals of the World: A Checklist. A & C Black, London.
A valuable overview of the world’s mammals, where splitting is almost as rife as with the birds!
© Phil Gregory
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